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Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the advice given by the EU Commission with regard to payment to hop producers under Regulation 1098/98 for hops planted during the winter 1997-98; and what discussion he has had with the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce concerning the interpretation of that advice. [75282]

Mr. Rooker: MAFF has undertaken extensive discussion with the Intervention Board about payments to hop growers under the new EU special temporary measures for hops. Advice from the Commission has been sought and further clarification is awaited before any final decisions are taken.